Originally posted by talzamir
A wealthy Roman is about to die and leaves a will when his wife is pregnant. According to the will, if the Roman will have a son, the son is to get 2/3 of the inheritance and the wife 1/3, and if the child will be a girl, the wife gets 2/3 and the daughter 1/3. As it happens, the Roman dies before childbirth, and as the day comes, his widow gets twins, one ...[text shortened]... rl.
What is the way to divide the inheritance that best reflects the intents of the deceased?
That depends very much on why and how he wanted his inheritance divided like this. There are at least two reasonable views:
- Any male heir must control a majority of 2/3 of his estate.
In this case, the boy gets 2/3, and the females should probably divide the remaining 1/3 according to the other division, i.e., 2/3*1/3=2/9 to the mother, 1/9 to the girl.
- The mother should inherit twice as much as any daughter, and a son twice as much as the mother. In this case, 1/7 for the girl, 2/7 for the mother, 4/7 for the son adds up to 7/7.
The latter is probably the solution a modern maths teacher expects his pupils to give; the former is more likely to accord with old Roman sentiments, which considered woman to be more or less the property of their husbands. In fact, a real old Roman would probably give 1/1 to his son, and nothing to his wife.